Otaku Dome had the privilege of interviewing Techland over their upcoming zombie/parkour game Dying Light which you can read below:
OTAKU DOME: Tymon Smektala, Producer
1. What inspired Dying Light?
First of all – our own imagination. There are lots of zombie buffs in our studio, so there is a non stop push to create something within that genre and we always think of new ideas that could take it forward. It’s obvious that we were also inspired by numerous comic books, novels & movies about the undead and various forms of infection. On the other hand, some of our inspirations were quite obscure or surprising – for example, the sound design was sparked by numerous viewings of “Ninja Assassin”, a cult movie by the Wachowskis. And, of course, there are games – plenty of them. We’ve played tons of FPS games, lots of zombie games, quite a few survival games, and we have treated them all as a benchmark for what we do. However, as a game developer, you always want to achieve more, so these games are our minimum bar.
2. While developing the game did you play games such as Mirror’s Edge and talk to real-life parkour athletes in order to get a grasp of the lifestyle?
Of course, Mirror’s Edge was one of the inspirations for our advanced Natural Movement system (the system that gives you an unprecedented freedom of movement in the game world) – but you know, you can’t make a horror movie without watching The Exorcist, can you? And yes again, we’ve spoken to people who train parkour or other sports activities that include risk & adrenaline. Actually, our main game designer is a former stuntman. We were interested in the ways they use their muscle strength and body balance when passing obstacles. We used this knowledge to create not only the Natural Movement, but also our character development system. However, we focused rather on their skills than their lifestyle. After all, in the world of Dying Light the most important thing is survival. We investigated this subject thoroughly, watching dozens of related movies and reading hundreds of books. We wanted to understand the changes of human behavior in such severe and extreme circumstances.
3. What made you go with Zombies being the threat of this world? Was it always the original plan? Did it come up during pre-development?
As I mentioned before, there are lots of zombie fans in our team, so this idea always pops up when we start a new project. However, this time we decided to go in this direction because we were confident that we can add something new to the theme of “zombie apocalypse”. I’m sure that players will agree when they see what we’ve come up with!
4. Just how different is the game between night and day gameplay?
Oooooh, it’s much, much different. During the day, the game is a kind of an experience that you could call a “traditional zombie game”. You traverse the environment, you scavenge for supplies, the infected are dangerous, but they’re rather slow and not that intelligent. At night, though, the real monsters come out – they are smart, fast, agile, and extremely lethal. So within a short period of time you go from being a hunter to being a prey. The good thing is that both these roles are equally satisfying for the player, even though they’re so different that you can say we have “2 games in 1”. To some extent it’s true, we do give our fans lots of value, but we’ve managed to tie these two gameplay experiences together into a coherent whole.
5. What’s the story behind the first trailer you released that had Woodkid’s “Run Boy Run” playing in the background, it came together really nicely.
Well, I guess it’s pretty clear. You can see a big threat – the infection, so you have to run from and fight against what waits for you in our game world. But at the end you find out that a human being can be even more dangerous and ruthless. In a way, this trailer describes the essence of Dying Light experience – it’s fast, it’s dynamic, it’s adrenaline-pumping, but it also tells a great story and is very atmospheric. The “Run Boy Run” song really adds to the action on the screen.
6.Thoughts on the current state of “zombie games”?
I think what I’m going to say is true for the whole “zombie genre” in general – it’s extremely popular, it is reinvented each time a new IP comes out, and we’re pretty sure that Dying Light will take it even further. We always try to create something new and we will definitely amaze you. When you enter the world we’ve created, “zombie games” will no longer be the same.
7. Just how much of a different animal is Dying Light on next-gen consoles compared to it’s current-gen and PC counterparts?
Gameplay-wise it’s the same – you should get the same experience and the same emotions whether you play the game on Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 or PC. Of course, on some platforms it will look much better (and we’re stoked that lots of gamers & journalists call Dying Light one of the prettiest next-gen games they’ve seen), but the overall experience should be the same. It’s a hard task for the dev team – two factors that influence our game most are the number of zombies on screen and the fluidity of movement. To keep them intact on all the platforms you have to be an optimization wizard – but our plan is to do everything it takes not to sacrifice the gameplay. Still, if you play the game on PC or next-gen consoles, you’ll get the benefit of some additional features making the whole thing even better. We’ve talked about some of them already – like the fact that you can draw zombies to your location by screaming to your headset. It works wonders in co-op!
8. What’s the story behind Dying Light’s creepy zombie design? What inspired them?
We wanted to make them look human – these are the infected, not the living dead after all. If you say they’re creepy it means we really achieved what we strived for.
9.What’s the plan for Dying Light, can we expect more entries in the future?
For now, let us focus just on this project to make it great. We try to approach things taking one bite at a time – when we create an awesome game, then we proceed to making even better DLC for it. And if the players find the whole universe interesting, we’ll make a groundbreaking sequel. However, to convince players that they should return to the universe of Dying Light, we first have to release the original game, and to make it stand out. And that’s what we’re working on every single day.
10. What’s your hope for Dying Light?
We hope it’s going to be one of the best zombie games ever, and one of most interesting games at the turn of the generation. We really think that the freedom of movement offered by our game will change the FPS landscape for good. Lots of people across a wide selection of countries had a chance to play our hands-on demo. And now Dying Light is among the most anticipated games in general. You can’t discuss with that.